Producing materials in different languages is not merely a matter of translating content and printing it. Differences in fonts, logistics, and language can make for a less cut and dry situation. Here are some considerations to make before you print translated materials.
1. Substrates and Size Formats
If you’re printing translated material there is a good chance you’re printing overseas. There is no guarantee that the paper you are accustomed to using is available in the target country.
Naturally, this affects things like design, layout, and pagination. Certain colours may have to be changed if they do not come through well on available substrates. Assessing the availability of materials might be a good first step before considering design and translation.
2. Script and Copy Flow
For most people reading this article, the 140-character Twitter rule forces you to be concise and brief because you’re using English. However, because most Chinese words consist of 2~3 characters, a Chinese speaker can fit a lot more into 140 characters. In other words, Chinese takes up much less space than English.
The implication of the above example is that, in print, translated content will likely produce either a longer or shorter copy than the original. This has to be taken into consideration if you don’t want to end up with a lot of white space or run out of room on a page.
3. Design and Font
Sometimes white font looks good on a black background. But this is a luxury that language using Cyrillic and Roman scripts (for example) can afford because the characters are relatively blocky and simplistic in design.
When you print in more complex characters, such as Chinese hanzi, it may be difficult to use styling like white-on-black and still have the text be legible. Another example would be vertical writing. This works fine in photographic language (again, like Chinese) and it’s okay in English, but it becomes awkward with scripts like Arabic, which write right-to-left in a seemingly cursive manner.